A (Partial) Atlas of Texas Crime Fiction

  • Post by Director of Suspense Molly Odintz

A hard land with a difficult history, Texas has always lent itself well to crime fiction. From the crime fiction greats who helped define the genre to those writers shaping the landscape of crime fiction today, Texas has a long tradition of social critiques and sendoffs of hypocrisy (the hallmarks of Texas crime fiction, in my opinion) delivered via murder mystery. Tales of Texas history may gaslight their audiences into believing in the state as a land of triumph, but we crime fiction readers know the dark, murderous truth about the land we call home….

Below, you’ll find an incomplete (of necessity) guide to Texas crime fiction, brought to y’all in honor of Texas Mystery Writers Month (that is, May). Emphasis is placed on well-known classic writers and the wide array of new crime fiction released in the past few years. We know we’re leaving out quite a few of the Texas mystery writer greats, and many of the good one-off novels. Some have gone out of print; others have simply dropped off our radar as we find new voices to champion.

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7 % Solution Book Club to Discuss: THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO AUSTIN by Rick Riordan

devil went down to austin

On Monday, August 3rd, at 7 PM on BookPeople’s third floor, the 7% Solution Book Club will discuss Rick Riordan’s The Devil Went Down to Austin, a Tres Navarre novel. Our pick for September is Heat Wave by Richard Castle.

Here at BookPeople, we appreciate Rick Riordan. We love him for his Percy Jackson books (the basis for Camp Half-Blood, our literary summer camp), we love him for his easy and fun interpretation of mythology, and we love him for his San Antonio-based murder mysteries starring Tres Navarre and his enchilada-eating cat, Robert Johnson. Riordan’s detective novels tackle many of the issues and changes seen in Texas today, including corrupt development, shady tech start-ups, growing gentrification, and the ever-popular I-35 drug pipeline.

On Monday, August 3, at 7 PM on BookPeople’s third floor, the 7% Solution Book Club takes on Riordan’s Austin-set Tres Navarre mystery, The Devil Went Down To Austin, and although most Austin residents claim the city has drastically changed since [insert date they moved here], this 2001 novel presents a highly recognizable Austin, both in landmarks and in themes. Riordan even complains about the traffic.

Riordan wrote this novel in the wake of the 90s tech boom and in the middle of Austin’s transformation from a sleepy town full of full-time musicians, sometime students and part-time legislators into a hub for creative technology. His exploration of the world of start-ups and the exploitation of up-and-comers in the tech industry feels as local and contemporary as when the book was first written.

As The Devil Went Down To Austin begins, Tres Navarre, English professor and part-time private eye, is enjoying his time restoring his father’s ranch when his lawyer shows up with bad news. His brother Garrett – programmer, ganja enthusiast, and die-hard Jimmy Buffet fan – has mortgaged the ranch to fund a now-failing tech start-up company. Tres goes to Austin to confront his brother about the ranch.

Upon his arrival, he finds out that Garrett and his business partners are not only in danger of losing their assets. If they don’t sell their start-up for peanuts to Matthew Peña, a ruthless tech mogul trailing suspicious deaths in his wake, they could lose their lives. Tres initially ignores his brother’s worries, but when Garrett’s business partner is murdered and Garrett comes under suspicion, Tres goes on a mission to discover just how dangerous the tech world can be.

You can find copies of The Devil Went Down To Austin on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. Book Clubs are free and open to the public, and book club picks are 10% off at the register in the month of their selection. The 7% Solution Book Club meets the first Monday of each month on BookPeople’s 3rd floor.